Blog » YRWT Mini Festival #3 — Flint Hill Vineyards
Driving down flat two lane roads flanked by corn and soybean isn’t necessarily the setting you’d think of when heading for a winery. However, there’s no mistaking Flint Hill as you come upon their beautiful vineyards, with lush green grapes. The soybeans that grow across the street from their 140-year-old farmhouse gives a window into some of the history of the land before the grapes.
The Doubs, Brenda and Tim, converted their beautiful family-owned farmhouse into a tasting room and restaurant, and have been serving the Yadkin Valley since 2005. The land was once home to the soybean and corn that grows in the surrounding area, and before that was a thriving whiskey distillery that actually formed the basis of the town (Shores, North Carolina as it was known then) that grew up around them.
As with many of the family owned businesses producing alcohol, Prohibition ended their whiskey business, though bottles from Riverside Distillery are on display throughout and can be found across the country by some collectors. Farming replaced distilling as the family business, and as with many other long-time family farmers in North Carolina, the Doubs turned to grapes as a way to keep a family farming tradition alive.
The farmhouse, a two story yellow home with a huge wrap around porch, is the second thing I noticed, after the grapes, as I came up to the third Yadkin River Wine Trail Mini Festival. The day was pushing 98 degrees, not exactly the best weather for drinking wine, but the gorgeous old oaks and walnut trees that surround the farmhouse provided plenty of shade to the folks sitting at tables and in chairs enjoying the sounds of JP Vanhoy and his all-star band.
The landscaped lawn had tasting booths set up on either side, with the usual cast (Cellar 4201, RagApple Lassie, Sanders Ridge, Divine Llama, and our hosts Flint Hill) offering a selection of wines for tasting. At least 100 brave souls weathered the heat and drank under the trees, occasionally resting in front of one of the big industrial fans on the premises, or sneaking inside for a sip or two in the tasting room.
This was my first visit to Flint Hill and I’d come again for the wines, but the farmhouse is really something to behold. The porch is perfect for sitting and sharing a glass, or two, and good conversation. I’ve often compared the Yadkin Valley to my former home, Sonoma County, but that porch is uniquely Southern and offers a glimpse into our antebellum past. Stepping inside is like stepping into another time, from the century-old materials and artifacts constructing the house, to the old pictures of family and the surrounding area. The tasting room literally smells of history; it’s comforting, and something no winery in California can offer.
The Flint Hill wines are an enjoyable bunch. They offer Viognier and steel Chardonnay (both light and crisp), and one of my favorite N.C. reds, Chambourcin. They offer a semi-dry white, the Old Yattken (the Native American name for the Yadkin), and a semi-sweet red, the Crushed Velvet. The Crushed Velvet is sweetened Chambourcin that is fantastic over ice on a blazing hot day. They also offer a Syrah and a Cabernet that I had in the comfort of the tasting room, and I enjoyed them both very much. While in the tasting room, I ran into a couple I once served at Divine Llama, who had told me that they “like the California Reds” and they had just purchased a few bottles of the Syrah to go.
To the disappointment of many, the property's restaurant, The Century Kitchen, is closed for the time being. This has led to some confusion regarding the status of the winery, and I can only say that Flint Hill Vineyards is alive and doing well. The Doubs are looking for a new chef and aren’t going to settle until they find the right one. The restaurant business is a tricky one, especially when it is built upon and centered on the fine wines Flint Hill offers. I applaud them for not rushing into it. Don’t let the closed kitchen deter you from coming out and enjoying a singularly North Carolina establishment.
The next Mini Festival is September 4th and will take place at Sanders Ridge. Hopefully the heat will take it down a notch or two, but if not, there is plenty of shade to keep folks cool. I hope to see you there!
Alan Wright is the human in charge of Humans at The Clever Robot, a full service web development company in downtown Winston-Salem working with small, medium and large businesses. He’s an avid locavore and hopes you’ll become one, too.